From Rev. Suzelle Lynch – As we move rapidly towards June and our last month with our Director of Religious Education Maria O’Connor, and our Assistant Minister the Rev. Joyce Palmer, the Personnel Committee and I have been talking with the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Ministerial Settlement Director, the UU MidAmerica Region Staff, and other UU congregations facing similar challenges about our staff openings and hiring processes. Here is an update!
In my June “Scintillations” column in the West Wind newsletter, I spoke of our desire to hire an Acting Assistant Minister of Lifespan Religious Education; a full-time, one or two-year position that would encompass our religious education programs and other ministry work.
Since then, though, we have listened and learned from the “experts in the field,” and our hiring plans are changing. We realized that we need to slow down our change process while keeping our current, well-organized religious education program running smoothly.
To that end, as soon as early June, we will seek a full-time Acting Religious Education Program Coordinator. This staff member will have the assistance of Kelly Bognar, our Publications Coordinator (and former long-time Religious Education Assistant) in ensuring that all is well with our religious education programming for the next year or so.
During that “interim time” we intend to bring in some highly-skilled religious education consultants to help us evaluate our religious education/faith development programming overall, learn about new models and ideas, and engage our UUCW families of all kinds in a process of visioning and discernment! We may have the opportunity to share these consultants with another local UU congregation, too – a great collaborative possibility where both churches can learn from one another.
At the same time, we will seek a part-time Community Builder to assist the Membership Team and me with the continuing ministry that helps foster a warm and welcoming community at UUCW.
The Board has granted permission for these plans to move forward, so watch for the announcement of our staff openings soon.
In the midst of these changes, and the exciting possibilities they bring, we also have our farewells and our grieving to do. We will have our chance to say goodbye to Rev. Joyce and Maria at the All Church Picnic on June 17 (after the single service at 10 am), and we’ll have memory books there for everyone who would like to write a message to these two beloved UUCW staff members. We hope to honor their legacies by continuing the good work they did after they have gone – even as we feel our sadness at their leaving…
We anticipate hiring an Assistant Minister again after we have done our important “interim work,” of course. And there will be so many ways for you to offer your ideas, opinions, and feedback as we engage in our process.
Please know that the Board, staff and I will do our best to keep you updated as we roll forward through the summer. In the meantime, please do ask questions and keep in touch. Your caring, involvement and the blessing of your presence makes all the difference at UUCW.
The Rev. Suzelle Lynch, Minister